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Sunday, April 30, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Sunday, April 30, 2023

Cheryl Baldonado becomes the new manager of Mizuno Superette in Pāhala, as the food store stays open and blends into 'Ohana Foods, which operates along with the Union 76 gas station in Nā‘ālehu. Photo by Julia Neal

MIZUNO SUPERETTE WILL TRANSITION TO NEW MANAGEMENT AND OWNERSHIP with a blessing on Friday, May 12 at 10 a.m. The locally run store, with a family history of enterprise in Pāhala for nearly a century, will retain its name and the legacy of families such as Mizuno, Yamaguchi and Hara, says new operator Carl Okuyama who also has a long history in Kaʻū with food stores in Nā‘ālehu and 'Ohana Foods in Hilo. Mizuno will blend into 'Ohana Foods.
    Okuyama said said he plans a visual display of Mizuno Superette's service to the community throughout the sugar plantation days and into the emergence of the Kaʻū Coffee culture. The most recent operators arrived more than 33 years ago, Rochelle and the late Derek Hara, remembered fondly in the community as an avid fisherman, who passed away while diving. Since then Rochelle has operated Mizuno and
recently told her employees that she must retire and set a date for the end of June. 
    When Okuyama and Olson Trust, owner of the adjacent shopping center, learned of the situation and the possibility of the only grocery store in Pāhala shutting down, they pulled together to create a seamless and early transition. 
    Okuyama said he would hire the workers and keep the doors open as Rochelle moves into retirement. He interviewed employees and most will stay on, with long-time assistant manager Cheryl Baldonado becoming manager and Carla Andrade continuing as assistant manager. Supervisors will include T-J George, Zara Galigo, Kama Wroblewski and Courtney Louis. Anthony Andrade is stocking manager.
    Daryn Galigo, manager at ‘Ohana Foods Union 76 in Nā'ālehu, has been promoted to Kaʻū Area Retail Supervisor. Galigo will provide assistance during the transition and ongoing guidance. Mizuno employs about 12 people. ‘Ohana Foods Union 76 Station employs 19 and ‘Ohana Foods in Hilo 25. 
    Rochelle Hara posted a message on the front of the store in April: "I would sincerely like to thank the community for welcoming my late husband Derek and me over 33 years ago. We have tried our hardest to provide the town with items it needed. I've pushed myself too much and have been really struggling to work through all of the pain. It's been difficult to keep the store stocked during the pandemic. Unfortunately I can’t keep up the pace. However, a new company will take over right after we close on Thursday, May 11." 
    She said that as a mahalo "we are running an in-store sale, at prices below our cost. More sales will be added daily until May 11. I appreciate all the love and support this community has given! Thank you all!"      
    Okuyama said Mizuno will continue to operate on its current schedule of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Sundays. 
    Over time there will be renovations and improvements, said Okuyama. He is leasing the space from Edmund C. Olson Trust II, which purchased the property from Hara. Olson Trust owns the adjacent Pāhala Center, with its bank, post office, hair salon, coffee shop and Longs Drugs. Mizuno Superette will join Pāhala Center where it has long shared the parking lot. 
    For the blessing, the public is invited on May 12 at 10 a.m. There will be light refreshments.

The Kaʻū High Trojans' esport club Valorant Team, on the left, made it to the final competition in the
Hawai'i state tournament on Oa'hu this weekend. Photo by Andrew Honma

THE ESPORT CLUB FROM KAʻŪ HIGH beat Kea'au in the state championships this weekend, but lost to Castle High in the final competition, held at Hawai‘i Pacific University’s Esports Arena on O'ahu.
    The Trojan esport club's varsity Valorant Team competed in Vanta Hawai‘i Esports League's HS Valorant semifinal game. It pitted Kaʻū against Kea‘au High in a best of three. Ka‘ū won, advancing to the final match where the Trojans lost to Castle. See more on the competition and local sponsors supporting the Trojans' trip to O'ahu at http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2023_04_27_archive.html.

TROJAN KALIA GRACE JUST MISSED QUALIFYING FOR STATES in the 200 meter during the Big Island Interscholastic final track meet of the season, Friday and Saturday. She ranked seventh overall. Also
Isaiah Manila Louis is a freshman, showing promise in 
 in running and long jump. Photo by Coach Tolu Rasmussen
ranking seventh was Cheska Aurelio in the 1500 m. 
    Coach Tolu Rasmussen said he and Coach Jacob Davenport have high hopes for next year's track team and call on more Trojans to come out for the sport. He noted that Grace is a freshman and has three more years ahead of her. Freshman Isaiah Manila Louis has excelled in long jump, hurdles, 100m, 200m and 400m. Freshman Cody Rasmussen competes in the 800 and 400. Aurelio will be a junior and presents a lot of talent. Stephen Adler runs the 100m and 200m, and jumped his personal best at the BIIFF finals. He will compete next year as a senior. "He gives it all every time," said Rasmussen. 
    Rasmussen said he is looking for flexibility in the sports program to allow more dual sports participation. For track he hopes for year round field events and track recruitment. He noted that track helps with almost every other sport, particularly football, which is off season during track. He also said that track is good for pig hunting, a popular sport in this community with many of the young pig hunters already in good shape, hiking and running in the mountains going after the pua‘a. 
    The coach also noted that in the track community, there is a high level of respect. "Everyone supports each other to do their best," even those on teams from other schools. "If you want respect and you want to represent Ka‘ū, come out for track." Rasmussen said that he and Davenport will be out recruiting.

LIVE MUSIC WITH OLA LOA, the band from Volcano, Comes to After Dark in the Park on Tuesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. at Kīlauea Visitor Center auditorium. Christopher Miller on guitar, Gary Dikito on ʻukulele and Jeff Hamilton on stand-up bass play Hawaiian, rhythm and blues and classic hits. Sponsored by the Friends of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free, but park entrance fees apply.